Essential Electric Bike Maintenance Guide
If you're considering purchasing an electric bike, you'll want to know how to take care of it. The best electric bikes can be expensive, so you'll need regular maintenance to keep yours in the best condition.
This guide explains how to look after your electric bike, including tips on washing the bike, reviewing the battery, regular component checks, and applying lubricants. If you need help figuring out where to start, our beginner's guide to electric bikes will explain the e-bike basics.
READ NEXT: Electric Bike Buyers Guide
The essentials of electric bike maintenance are the same whether you're looking at an electric hybrid bike, folding bike or road bike.
Proper maintenance, particularly of the drivetrain, is even more important if riding off-road on an electric mountain bike because dirt and debris can quickly take a toll on expensive components.
An electric bike, like any bike, needs regular maintenance. Cleaning and taking care of your e-bike will keep it running smoothly, efficiently and safely, all of which can contribute to a longer lifespan for the bike and its battery and motor.
How Often Should You Service Your Electric Bike?
In many senses, electric bicycle maintenance is no different from that of a non-assisted bike. However, some components, particularly the drivetrain (cranks, chain and sprockets), are subject to greater forces and increased wear.
Therefore, washing your e-bike regularly and keeping it well-maintained is paramount to getting the most out of it.
Keep It Dirt Free
Dirt and mud increase wear on components and, when mixed with water and grease, can form a paste that will, at best, decrease the efficiency of your bike and, at worst, quickly wear through consumable parts.
The smoother your electric bike runs, the more efficient it will be, and the longer your key components will last.
Keep the drivetrain clean and running well: battery life and power output are irrelevant if your gears are grinding and skipping all over the place. Riding a bike with a clean, efficient drivetrain and correctly adjusted gears is a more pleasurable experience.
Suppose your drivetrain looks excessively dirty (usually an accumulation of black gunk on the chain or, on electric mountain bikes in particular, mud stuck in the jockey wheels of the rear derailleur). In that case, you can quickly clean it with a rag or deep clean it with a degreaser.
Electric bike chains tend to require more frequent lubrication than e-bikes driven by carbon drive belts. Regularly applying a quality lubricant to your chain will ensure the transmission runs efficiently. Doing this after every ride and washing and drying the bike is a good idea.
READ NEXT: Which is Best? Chain vs Carbon Belt Drive
You should also regularly check your bike's tyre pressures. Under-inflated tyres are potentially dangerous and can also waste power and reduce efficiency, meaning you'll get less out of a battery charge. Equally, running tyres at too high a pressure can compromise comfort and grip, especially if riding off-road.
As a starting point, keep your tyres inflated to within the recommended pressures indicated on the sidewall. However, experiment to find your ideal pressure, balancing weight, comfort, grip and rolling resistance.
How to Wash Your Electric Bike?
Electric bike motors and batteries are sealed units and shouldn't let in any water. Still, you should avoid washing any bicycle – electric or not – with a powerful jet wash because the power of the water could force its way through the bike's numerous seals.
Wash your e-bike with water from a bucket or low-pressure hose, a brush and (optionally) a bike-specific cleaning product to quickly cut through dirt and grime. Ensure that all connections remain sealed by leaving the battery in its housing. Turn the e-bike system off before washing it (and unplug it from the charger).
After washing the bike, dry it off with a clean cloth, avoiding the disc brakes (you don't want to accidentally contaminate them with oil or other cleaning products used elsewhere on the bike).
Suppose your bike has a range-extender battery (an optional second battery that can be connected for longer rides). In that case, you should always disconnect it before cleaning and clean the connections with a soft, dry brush.
Wear and Tear on Components
Many e-bikes now use features developed specifically for pedal-assisted riding. This means tougher parts are made to withstand the added forces that go through an e-bike due to the bike's increased power output, speed and overall weight.
Despite e-Bike the components being reinforced, you are still demanding a lot from an electric bike, whether pedalling, braking, turning, climbing or descending, so it's a good idea to keep a keen eye on the components and frame.
Regularly safety checks your bike to ensure all bolts and axles are tightened to the manufacturer's recommended torque settings, check your tyres for anything that might cause a puncture and test for any loose spokes.
Watch out for excessive wear, too. If one part wears out, such as the chain, it can have a knock-on effect on other components – such as causing premature wear to the chainrings and cassette.
Check Your Brakes
Another difference between pedal bikes and e-bikes is the braking system, which tends to be sturdier and more frequently used in electric bikes because of the higher speeds.
Keeping your brake pads clean can both increase the lifespan of the brakes themselves and increase your range, because grit stuck between the pads and the wheel can slow you down and damage the brakes’ surface.
Maintain Your Battery
All lithium-ion batteries gradually deteriorate and lose capacity over time. This might only amount to around 5% of the maximum charge per year, but it is to be expected. Taking good care of the battery, storing it correctly and keeping it charged will help ensure a long life.
E-Bike Battery CleaningIf you disconnect your battery regularly, take the opportunity to clean it with a damp cloth and brush any dirt off the connections with a dry brush.
Clean and lightly grease the battery contacts occasionally, too. Never clean the battery with a high-pressure jet wash or a high-pressure hose.
Charging and Storing an E-Bike Battery
Charge the battery at room temperature in a dry location. Extreme heat and cold are the enemies of electric bike batteries. During winter, particularly if the temperature is below 0°C, charge and store the battery at room temperature and re-insert the battery into the bike immediately before riding.
Store your e-bike battery in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. To improve the lifespan of your battery, avoid leaving the battery fully charged or fully discharged for long periods.
As we've already said, avoid storing the bike for long periods with no charge – maintaining a 30% to 60% charge is ideal for long-term storage. You can disconnect the battery when the bike is out of use for an extended period. It will gradually lose charge, so still, top it up occasionally.
Use the correct charger
While some battery chargers may seem compatible with several bikes, you should only use the charger specific to yours. Batteries sometimes charge differently, so using an incorrect charger could damage your e-bike battery.
READ NEXT: Maxmise Your E-Bike Battery
Most e-bike system manufacturers release software and app updates; some occasionally, others frequently. As well as logging ride statistics and other helpful information, some e-bike apps or built-in displays can allow you to tailor the performance of your bike.
You can get system health or maintenance updates from your e-bike's app or built-in display, which may show you information such as service intervals. Check for any firmware updates are available through connected apps or by visiting the manufacturer's website. Some brands recommend you visit an authorised dealership for any updates to be made.
Depending on the motor brand and system your bike is running, these firmware updates help boost torque, extend battery life or provide other useful upgrades, so it's worth checking.
Finally, sometimes e-bikes can display error codes that stop the motor from engaging. The reasons for these errors vary but can usually be easily fixed by a dealership.
Electric Bike Maintenance Basics
Like any bike, looking after your electric bike will help you get the most enjoyment out of your machine and can increase the lifespan of key components.
By keeping on top of some basic maintenance, your e-bike will keep you grinning from ear to ear. So, to wrap things up, here's a recap of the basics of e-bike maintenance:
- Keep your bike clean, the drivetrain well lubricated, and the tyres properly inflated.
- Regularly check for loose bolts, spokes and broken parts
- Keep the battery partially charged and store it in a cool, dry place
- Avoid storing the bike with a flat battery
- Charge the battery only with the correct charger
- Check regularly for software updates
- Visit a dealership if there is a fault. Try to avoid taking apart or fixing the motor or battery yourself.